partner stories

WNC Health Network

WNC Health Network


Serving the region for more than 25 years, WNC Health Network exists to support community health across western North Carolina. The organization contributes to the movement toward healthy and thriving communities by: 

  • Collecting, curating and sharing high-quality health data
  • Building local and regional capacity to plan, facilitate, implement and evaluate community health improvement efforts; 
  • Supporting and enhancing health communications; 
  • Leveraging their unique, regional role to contribute both to top regional health issues and to connectivity and alignment across community health stakeholders and efforts.

WNC Health Network values building capacity, supporting connections and using human-centered approaches. The organization is committed to developing processes that meaningfully engage their customers’ communities and partners – particularly those most impacted by the health issue at hand. They also value collaboration locally and regionally – developing tools and resources that build our region’s capacity. These values can be seen in action through their work to convene and support WNC Healthy Impact and the WNC Health Communicators Collaborative.

Spotlight on WNC Health Network’s Health Communications Program

WNC Health Network convenes the WNC Health Communicators Collaborative, a group of  local and regional health communicators that began meeting in March, 2019, as a group of peers to share resources, information and learning opportunities. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the group began meeting virtually each week to support each other and communicate with communities about COVID-19 prevention. 

In September 2020, the Collaborative braided together funding from MAHEC, AdventHealth Hendersonville, Dogwood Health Trust and Mission Health to coordinate a three-month, five-county pilot of a collaborative regional COVID-19 communications campaign. Based on the success of the pilot, in December 2020, Dogwood Health Trust provided funding to expand the campaign to help move the needle on COVID-19 through the end of August, 2021. This time, 16 counties, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and several local organizations elected to participate.

The My Reason WNC public health campaign centers on the collaborating efforts of local public health agencies throughout western North Carolina to effectively share crucial information and messages related to COVID-19 with local residents. Recognizing that community leaders and advocates are often some of the most trusted voices in their communities, the campaign features images and video testimonials of community members from the region sharing their motivations for practicing the 3 Ws of COVID-19 safety (wearing a face covering, waiting 6 feet apart and washing hands frequently) and why they received the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Campaign materials are primarily delivered through social media and allow local public health entities to counter misinformation and target communities with positive, evidence-based messaging in English and Spanish. On a local and regional level, they continually track and share metrics, including engagement, reach and website traffic to ensure campaigns were successful and resonated with target audiences. To date, the campaign has reached over 734,000 residents and counting.

“We are grateful to Dogwood for listening to the WNC Health Communicators Collaborative and supporting the approach they knew would make the greatest impact in our region. We’re proud of the collaborative spirit of western NC and how it has allowed us to have a unified regional voice in fighting the pandemic, while still valuing local autonomy, expertise and trusted messengers,” says Executive Director for WNC Health Network Erin Braasch.

 “We are grateful to Dogwood for listening to the WNC Health Communicators Collaborative and supporting the approach they knew would make the greatest impact in our region.”

– Erin Braasch, Executive Director, WNC Health Network

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Area(s) Served

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Health & Wellness | Goal 4

Increase Access to Behavioral Health and Substance Use Prevention and Treatment

Support programs and networks that reduce deaths, treat addiction, and prevent first use

Objective 4.1: Reduce opioid overdose mortality throughout the region

Objective 4.2: Reduce untreated behavioral health and substance use disorder in disproportionately affected communities

Objective 4.3: Prevent and reduce behavioral health issues and substance use (tobacco, alcohol, illicit and prescription drugs) in youth

Health & Wellness | Goal 3

Address Health Disparities

Help reduce disparities based on race, location, education and income factors

Objective 3.1: Improve health outcomes for women and infants in rural and low-income communities and communities of color

Objective 3.2: Reduce the prevalence of common chronic health diseases in disproportionately affected communities

Objective 3.3: Increase effectiveness of health care through delivery of culturally aligned services

Health & Wellness | Goal 2

Increase Access to Whole-Person Health Care

Invest in integrated heath care with seamless connections to supportive services

Objective 2.1: Increase the number of people with affordable health insurance coverage

Objective 2.2: Increase the available workforce for primary and allied health care services

Objective 2.3: Increase access to comprehensive and integrated care

Objective 2.4: Increase access to community-based services in low-income, elderly and rural communities

Health & Wellness | Goal 1

Support and Build Healthy Communities

Support communities that promote healthy living and resiliency and help mitigate the impact of trauma, isolation and stress on individuals and families, especially those experiencing poverty

Objective 1.1: Decrease adverse experiences (ACEs and traumatic violence) and improve individual and family resiliency

Objective 1.2: Increase access to community environments that promote healthy living and social connectedness across the age continuum

Economic Opportunity | Goal 4

Foster Entrepreneurship

Support a well-funded, sustainable, competitive entrepreneur and small business ecosystem throughout the region

Objective 4.1: Increase the number of Person of Color (POC)-led small businesses throughout the region

Objective 4.2: Increase the number of rural small businesses throughout the region

Economic Opportunity | Goal 3

Build Economic Ecosystems

Help build a regional economic ecosystem that supports increased creation/retention of jobs and business ownership

Objective 3.1: Improve access to higher-paying jobs throughout the region, targeting the lowest income populations

Objective 3.2: Increase and retain quality jobs

Objective 3.3: Stimulate economic growth, catalyzing businesses and revenue

Economic Opportunity | Goal 2

Promote Work Readiness

Help build a skilled workforce with the knowledge and technical abilities to excel in a wide range of industry employment opportunities that provide a competitive, sustainable wage

Objective 2.1: Close the educational attainment gap in WNC, staying on pace with regional and county-specific projections (myFutureNC 2030).

Economic Opportunity | Goal 1

Develop a Comprehensive Data Resource

Source, analyze and share a comprehensive, county-by-county data set that paints a full picture of work readiness, economic development and entrepreneurial needs and opportunities specific to Western North Carolina

Education | Goal 3

Support Higher Education Career Readiness

Work in tandem with Economic Opportunity Strategic Priority to invest in career readiness at the community college and university levels

Objective 4.1: Close the educational attainment gap in WNC, staying on pace with regional and county-specific projections (myFutureNC 2030).

Education | Goal 2

Improve K-12 Education

Support K-12 learning experiences with the resources and sustainability to provide an excellent academic and social-emotional education, so that all students graduate ready for college or career

Objective 2.1: Address teacher workforce challenges

Objective 2.2: Equip families of students to support academic growth and social-emotional health

Objective 2.3: Increase capacity of partners to provide supports and services, particularly for children facing challenges related to poverty, systemic racism, being differently abled or English language learners

Education | Goal 1

Improve Early Childhood Education Ecosystem

Invest in an improved early childhood education ecosystem with the resources and sustainability to provide developmentally appropriate, affordable and accessible education and care to support ages birth to five, so that all children in WNC enter kindergarten ready to learn

Objective: Address early childhood educator workforce challenges

Education | Goal 4

Develop a Comprehensive Landscape Study

Source, analyze and share a comprehensive set of publicly available data that provides a regularly updated, county-by-county picture of access, workforce and student outcomes in early childhood education and K-12 education specific to Western North Carolina

Housing | Goal 5

Use Impact Investments to Create Affordable and Workforce Housing

Loans, guarantees, and other financial tools to leverage funding opportunities

Housing | Goal 4

Create and Preserve Housing Units for Persons Below 50% of the Median Income

Increase affordable housing for lowest-income individuals and families

Objective 4.1: Create rental units for households below 50% of the median income

Objective 4.2: Help families pay no more than 30% of their income on housing

Objective 4.3: Create and preserve communities in a way that is representative of the WNC natural landscape

Housing | Goal 3

Create and Preserve Senior Housing

Support age-appropriate resources in affordable and workforce units, rental and owned

Objective 3.1: Create needed rental and homeownership opportunities for seniors

Objective 3.2: Incorporate supportive services in rental housing developments

Objective 3.3: Increase use of universal design in development

Housing | Goal 2

Create and Preserve Supportive Housing Rental Units

Invest in housing with sustainable supports for physical and mental health and wellbeing

Objective 2.1: Create new supportive housing

Objective 2.2: Preserve existing supportive housing

Objective 2.3: Leverage state and federal funds

Single story home in the midst of being build with 3 volunteers helping.

Housing | Goal 1

Support Healthy and Safe Revitalization Opportunities

Support healthy and safe revitalizations that work against displacement and gentrification, preserve home ownership and create generational wealth.

Objective 1.1: Revitalize Neighborhoods

Objective 1.2: Repurpose existing structures to minimize environmental impact

Objective 1.3: Support home ownership